The project

This project takes place at IRPHEa joint research unit of CNRS, Aix-Marseille University and Ecole Centrale Marseille in Marseille, France. It has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 681835—FLUDYCO—ERC-2015-CoG).

See the trailer of the research project


Understanding the flows in planetary cores from their formation to their current dynamics is a tremendous interdisciplinary challenge. Beyond the challenge in fundamental fluid dynamics to understand these extraordinary flows involving turbulence, rotation and buoyancy at typical scales well beyond our day-to-day experience, a global knowledge of the involved processes is fundamental to a better understanding of the initial state of planets, of their thermal and orbital evolution, and of magnetic field generation, all key ingredients for habitability. 

The purpose of the present project is to go beyond the state-of-the-art in tackling three barriers at the current frontier of knowledge. It combines groundbreaking laboratory experiments, complementary pioneering numerical simulations, and fruitful collaborations with leaders in various fields of planetary sciences. Improving on the latest advances in the field, we address the fluid dynamics of iron fragmentation during the later stages of planetary accretion, in order to produce innovative, dynamically reliable models of planet formation. Considering the latest published data for Earth, we investigate the flows driven in a stratified layer at the top of a liquid core and their influence on the global convective dynamics and related dynamo. Finally, building upon the recent emergence of alternative models for core dynamics, we quantitatively examine the non-linear saturation and turbulent state of the flows driven by libration, as well as the shape and intensity of the corresponding dynamo. 

In the context of an international competition, the originality of this work comes from its multi-method and interdisciplinary character.

The 3 tasks